English Grammar Boot Camp

Improve your grammar competence and confidence by learning the essential elements of English grammar and usage, led by an award-winning linguist.
English Grammar Boot Camp is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 154.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful, geeky romp through grammar Again, this was a course I approached because I felt like I needed it. Grammar has always been one of those subjects that give me heartburn; something I want to be better at, but did not want to out in the work to achieve that goal. This is not a course of grammar in the traditional sense of studying all the parts of speech, the rules, the no’s, etc. Rather it touches on those issues that seem to give folks the most problems. I absolutely loved the way the professor tied in the history of the language and changing usage. It gave some real perspective. Anne Cruzan is a very fine lecturer and obviously has a true love for her subject. I found the course well worth my time and very enjoyable to boot. And I learned quite a bit to boot.
Date published: 2021-06-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not grammar course I wish I could exchange it for a different course.
Date published: 2021-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Course! This course has taught me so much about the living beast that is the English language! Anne Curzan clearly loves grammar and her love just oozes out of every single lecture, and I couldn't help but be hyped up by every nuance and historical fact she shared! I loved seeing how the language has changed and still is changing, and it was an absolute blast to geek out about grammar. This course is a love letter to the English language made for every grammar geek and language-loving lad or lass.
Date published: 2021-06-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not a Grammar Boot Camp! This course is interesting and the professor is engaging and clearly loves her subject. I came here looking for an English Grammar Boot Camp - as in to learn the rules of English. What I got was a lot of interesting historical information about English, and a lot of reasons why we do not need to follow the rules of the language to communicate, and what the professor thinks will happen to English in the future (spoiler - "singular they" is presented). I needed to learn the rules of English for work, not hear thoughts on singular they. How about renaming this course to something like 'English Grammar and its Development' or "Progressive Ideas about English Grammar" or maybe "English, A Linguistic Journey of Change". Boot Camp is just not what it is and is unfortunately what I needed. I am giving this three stars until you change the name, then I will give it the 5 the professor deserves.
Date published: 2021-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Even makes apostrophes fun This was not what I thought I wanted, but it was so much what I needed. I was trying to learn about the object of a sentence, instead I learned about the object of language and how the English Language can become a real object of affection. Anne Curzan is a delight.
Date published: 2021-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well taught but not much useable info. I watched this and was highly impressed by the mind blowing knowledge of the lecturer. Definitely knows her topic and is vastly qualified. That said, I do not see how I can use hardly any of this info. I was hoping for a grammar review, but that is not what this is. It is something else, just not what I was looking for. As to the rating that I gave, I do not believe in marking down a course that is so well presented just because it is not what I was looking for.
Date published: 2020-12-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from English Grammar Boot Camp I have always been a bit fascinated with English grammar but it became more honed through learning French. I lived in France in my high school years . I attended a French boarding school so I learned it fluently. I learned as much English as I did French. However, there were many aspects of English that I didn't know so I was very attracted to Professor Anna Curzan's course. She was delightful in her presentation and explanation. I thought I knew a lot; I learned a lot more! I will go back and review the whole course again! I would like to thank The Great Courses and Anne Curzan for this course.
Date published: 2020-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not for the faint hearted, but outstanding This is not “boot camp” in the sense of an immersive first exposure to the subject, as some previous reviewers have discovered to their disappointment. I think it is safe to say that having taken a good solid English grammar course in high school is a prerequisite to being able to benefit optimally from this series. And it has, indeed, a great deal to offer. Professor Curzan is a brilliant, clear, well-organized presenter, whose discussions are illuminating and whose explanations are easily grasped—provided one already has the basics of parts of speech, sentence construction, and other fundamentals of grammar, as these are generally not explained. One aspect of the course I particularly appreciated was the repeated emphasis that the different types of English usage swirling around us today—text messages, casual conversation, media discussions, magazine articles, and “serious” scholarly writing—do not illustrate different levels of quality or correctness, but distinct, equally valid forms of communication in current English: as a sometimes too-stuffy academician I have found it helpful to remind myself of that. Several of the lectures touch on scientific writing, and as someone who has attempted to help others become better at this I found these discussions particularly insightful. The course is not for the faint-hearted, and a number of its subject's facets are covered quite comprehensively. However, I have a hard time imagining anyone guiding us through it all more effectively than Dr Curzan, one of very best of The Teaching Company’s many outstanding professors,
Date published: 2020-11-28
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English Grammar Boot Camp takes you on an enjoyable exploration of the essential aspects of English grammar. These spirited and accessible lectures offer a comprehensive core training in all of the key elements of grammar and usage, in their most immediate, practical application. Discover a breadth of perspective and context you won't find elsewhere, improving your grammar competence and confidence in all contexts.


Anne Curzan
Anne Curzan

I love this chance to share my passion for exploring the history of language and the dynamics of everyday talk. It allows us to see and hear the language around us in entirely new ways.


University of Michigan
Dr. Anne Curzan is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English at the University of Michigan. She earned a B.A. in Linguistics from Yale University and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. Professor Curzan has won several awards for teaching, including the University of Michigan's Henry Russel Award, the Faculty Recognition Award, and the John Dewey Award. Her research interests include the history of English, language and gender, corpus linguistics, historical sociolinguistics, pedagogy, and lexicography. In addition to writing numerous articles, reviews, and edited volumes, Professor Curzan is the author of Gender Shifts in the History of English and the coauthor of How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction and First Day to Final Grade: A Graduate Student's Guide to Teaching. Beyond her teaching and research interests, she is a member of the American Dialect Society and sits on the usage panel for the American Heritage Dictionary. She can also be found talking about language in her column, Talking About Words, in Michigan Today and on the segment, That's What They Say, on Michigan Radio.

By This Professor

English Grammar Boot Camp


Why Do We Care about Grammar?

01: Why Do We Care about Grammar?

First, examine how we judge what is acceptable or unacceptable in English, and how we distinguish "acceptable" from "stylistically preferable." Consider how grammar often takes on larger meanings related to education and culture. Grasp how understanding the differences and diversity within our language allows us to become more nuanced speakers and writers....

33 min
Prescriptivism: Grammar Shoulds and Shouldn'ts

02: Prescriptivism: Grammar Shoulds and Shouldn'ts

Here, investigate prescriptive grammar: the set of rules that tell us what we should and shouldn't do in formal English. Trace the history of specific grammatical rules and of academic usage guides, and note how such guides justify "right" vs. "wrong." Learn about historically famous grammarians, whose opinions about usage still influence us today.

31 min
Descriptivism: How Grammar Really Works

03: Descriptivism: How Grammar Really Works

Now dive into descriptive grammar: the rules that describe actual usage. In examples ranging from contractions to word order and negation, observe the wealth of grammatical knowledge that you know intuitively. Consider how comparing the descriptive with the prescriptive can help you make more informed choices about usage.

32 min
Re Phrasing

04: Re Phrasing

This lecture looks at how we define and categorize words into parts of speech, and considers the fascinating ways in which words expand or move into new categories. Study how we characterize nouns, verbs, adverbs, and their syntax, and delineate the difference between a phrase, a clause, and a sentence.

29 min
Fewer Octopuses or Less Octopi?

05: Fewer Octopuses or Less Octopi?

Investigate countable and uncountable nouns, and learn the details of how we use them with modifiers such as "fewer" and "less." Then delve into irregular plurals in English, observing the variety of ways they are formed. Finally, learn about collective nouns and the question of subject-verb agreement, as in, "there's/there are a few reasons."

31 min
Between You and Your Pronouns

06: Between You and Your Pronouns

Enter the world of pronouns, beginning with personal pronouns and the complications that arise around conjoined constructions (e.g., "you and me"). Then take on interrogative pronouns-including when to use "who" vs. "whom"-and indefinite pronouns (such as "none"), asking questions such as whether "none" can be both singular and plural.

33 min
Which Hunting

07: Which Hunting

Confront the often-confusing question of when to use "that" as opposed to "which." Study the most commonly applied rules governing these relative pronouns, and hear opinions on the subject from notable grammarians. Also learn about clauses in which relative pronouns disappear, and consider the use of relative pronouns with animate beings vs. inanimate objects....

29 min
A(n) Historical Issue

08: A(n) Historical Issue

Determiners are small words (such as "an," "this," "each," or "many") that introduce nouns and create noun phrases. Learn their key functions in English, and see how determiners are different from adjectives and pronouns. Then investigate the history of capitalization in English, current capitalization practice, and the curious history of the capitalized pronoun "I."

30 min
Funnest Lecture Ever

09: Funnest Lecture Ever

Adjectives, in multiple incarnations, form the focus of this lecture. Study the ways we turn adjectives into comparatives and superlatives, and review the much-criticized issue of double comparatives. Look also at adjectives that change meanings depending on where they appear in a sentence, as well as noun phrases in which the adjective, uncharacteristically, appears after the noun....

30 min
Going, Going, Went

10: Going, Going, Went

In the realm of verbs, begin by clarifying past tense vs. past participle, and note how new irregularities creep into the verb spectrum. Explore one of the most eternal of usage errors: that of "lie" vs. "lay." Study verb tenses and aspects (progressive or perfect), and investigate irregular past participles....

32 min
Object Lessons

11: Object Lessons

Examine how we categorize verbs based on how they function within the sentence. Along the way, grapple with thorny usage issues, such as whether you feel "bad" or "badly," and the "it is me/I" conundrum. Explore how verbs work with or without objects (the transitive/intransitive distinction), and learn about complex transitive verbs....

29 min
Shall We?

12: Shall We?

Continue with the category of auxiliary (helping) verbs, beginning with the familiar usage issue of "can" vs. "may." Then study the workings of modal auxiliary verbs (such as "might," "must," and "shall"), the primary helping verbs of "be," "have," and "do," and the ongoing controversy over the most notorious of auxiliary verbs: "ain't."...

35 min
Passive Voice Was Corrected

13: Passive Voice Was Corrected

Explore the use of the often-criticized passive voice, beginning with a clear definition of what distinguishes the passive voice from the active. Consider the benefits of the passive voice for situations in which responsibility for an action is unclear, for maintaining continuity in writing, and for scientific writing in which the narrative requires objectivity....

32 min
Only Adverbs

14: Only Adverbs

Discover the rich world of adverbs, as they modify not only verbs, but also adjectives, other adverbs, clauses, and sentences. Investigate intensifiers (such as "very," "surely," and "possibly"), which can either strengthen or hedge statements, and study the subtleties of "flat" adverbs-adverbs that have the same form as their adjective counterparts....

33 min
No Ifs, Ands, or Buts

15: No Ifs, Ands, or Buts

Begin this immersion in conjunctions with the controversy surrounding sentences that begin with conjunctions (such as "And furthermore..."). Review the functions of coordinating conjunctions ("and," "but," "yet"), subordinating conjunctions ("if," "because," "unless"), and contested uses of the conjunction "plus." Chart the rise of an unusual new coordinator in colloquial use: the word "slash."...

33 min
However to Use However

16: However to Use However

Conjunctive adverbs (such as "thus," "consequently," or "moreover") conjoin two clauses. Identify the range of conjunctive adverbs and their significant benefits in formal writing. Then explore notable usage issues such as those concerning "however," "more important" vs. "more importantly," and forms such as "firstly" and "thusly," which reflect changes in language style and taste....

27 min
Squirrels and Prepositions

17: Squirrels and Prepositions

Among the fine points of prepositions, unpack the issue of "different from" vs. "different than." Grasp how prepositions show relationships between words, often giving information about time or location. With this understanding, grapple with controversies such as "between" vs. "among" and "toward" vs. "towards," and investigate a startling contemporary change with the word "because."...

31 min
Stranded Prepositions

18: Stranded Prepositions

Is it incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition? Trace the origins of this idea, and see how the practice came to be viewed as "bad" usage. Consider the views of 20th-century commentators, and note specific cases where "stranding" the preposition can add elegance and stylistic punch to writing....

27 min
The Dangers of Danglers

19: The Dangers of Danglers

Look closely at dangling modifiers, which are words or phrases that appear to modify something other than what was intended (e.g., "Glancing through the document, the typos jumped off the page."). Investigate a variety of danglers, including some that have become accepted in formal writing, and consider their implications for both spoken and written expression....

31 min
Navigating the Choppy Paragraph

20: Navigating the Choppy Paragraph

Learn how to make your prose writing flow and avoid choppiness through key syntactic choices. Study the known-new contract, a principle for presenting information by placing known information before new information, sentence to sentence. Examine three different ways to use this principle, and look at how to present information clearly in scientific writing....

32 min
What Part of Speech is Um?

21: What Part of Speech is Um?

Within the grammar of conversation, study the distinction between involved discourse, which relates to negotiating relationships, and informational discourse, which involves delivering information. Then grasp the important roles of discourse markers, small words such as "so," "well," and "oh," that help organize discourse and manage our expectations in conversation....

34 min
Duck, Duck, Comma, and Duck

22: Duck, Duck, Comma, and Duck

Punctuation acts as a fundamental component of written usage. It shapes and clarifies meaning, and it organizes language on the page. Review the modern rules regarding the punctuation marks that structure sentences: commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes. Highlight core uses of commas, and consider how punctuation follows different rules in texting....

33 min
Its/It's Confusing

23: Its/It's Confusing

Apostrophes present multiple usage issues. Examine how we use them with contractions and possessives, noting the problems involved with nouns ending in "s". Explore how apostrophe usage can create and alleviate ambiguity. Consider exceptions to "standard" use of the apostrophe, and think about what the future of the apostrophe may be....

31 min
Trending Language

24: Trending Language

Examine some new grammatical expressions that are on the rise, and explore the controversy they ignite within the linguistic community. Remember that English usage is a living process, and language must respond to its audience and context, adapting as necessary to fit new conditions. Conclude by considering changes to watch for in our language....

34 min